“Gold Digger” ~ Kanye West

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So, what is it about a million dollars? Isn’t that what so many of us wished for when we were little…or older? “Gee, if only I had a million dollars, I’d be set!” Then, we’d make a list of everything we wanted: a mansion with a pool…the best car out there…not ever having to work again…all the clothes we could ever want…and the list went on. You know, I still hear people say this (except in this economy, it’s more like “I wish I had a couple million dollars” 🙄) but I think about whether or not it’s really the thing to want…to desire…to dream about.

Yes, I do believe money can buy certain non-tangeable things like security, better safety, and the such, but what else can it REALLY buy? Happiness? Love? Fulfillment? Respect?

Hmmmmm…now that’s I’m a cough-cough…tad older…I’ve come to realize that what I truly want in life isn’t connected to me winning the lottery at all. Over the last few years I’ve come to see money very differently. Much more utilitarian…and not so much as what dreams are made of.

Let’s take happiness. Now, some might argue that money CAN buy happiness. “Look…it’ll get me a boat, a truck and a cabin in the woods…that’s happiness!” And that’s right. It will get you the stuff you want that can make you happy…but is it the moolah that’s actually causing the happiness? I’ve known people with these things and they still aren’t happy. Still aren’t content. Are actually, still wanting more.

I remember when Hubby #1 (shutty, peeps… 😬) and I moved from our orange and brown, 1 bedroom, teensy tiny kitchen, hideous bathroom apartment to our trailer! I was in heaven! My gosh…no more neighbors clomping around upstairs (although we did have the best neighbors possible 😀) and no more parties blaring downstairs. No more having our allotted parking place being taken over by some boob who had no idea what a ‘reserved’ sign meant and no more traipsing up rickety stairs juggling 3 bags of groceries and an armful of school books.

Now, we had our own driveway…only a couple of stairs…no more people surrounding us with only a piece of drywall separating us. It was heaven on earth. Even the avocado color scheme was a welcome change from the darkness of what we’d had. Could we ever be happier? Would we ever out-grow this nirvana? Well. Yes.

The trailer that was HUGE when we moved in suddenly became just as full and cluttered as our apartment had been thanks to my penchant for thrift shopping. Whenever I found something that I just knew we had the space for, I bought it…not realizing that each item actually did take up an area of finite space that was shrinking with each trip I took in the car. And the avocado color scheme I thought was so beautiful and fresh and nature-y? It started looking like someone puked up spinach all over the place. 🤢

SOOOOO…we bought our first house! YEA! Now this was IT! I would never want anything else than our own house. This is where we’d raise our family and have dinners for our grandkids and throw parties and do whatever it was we wanted. And, it was all well and good. Until 2 weeks after we moved in and Hubby said he wanted a divorce. Heh? We finally ‘made it’ to where we had dreamed and he wanted out? Hmmmm.

Why is it we still live in a society where having money means ‘you made it.’ Because someone else’s bank account is bigger than yours, they just have to be happier. I’ll share a secret with you. I believed this for a long time. Then, my world got shook up and I finally realized what I really needed…and what could actually be in my reach if I worked at it. It didn’t have to be a dream…it could be a reality.

Instead of dreaming about being a millionaire, I decided that I’d rather be loved, happy, and content with a feeling of purpose. Just 4 things…instead of a million bucks.

For so long in my life, I thought of myself as being unlovable. Face it, after 2 years of being sexually abused, 3 divorces (yes, you may roll your eyes 🙄) and a couple of break-ups, it’s pretty hard not to feel this way. After Hubby 3 and I divorced and then J and I had our tumultuous relationship, I felt more unlovable than I ever had in my entire life. Hubby and I still talk daily…and lately he’s told me how much he regrets leaving and that he still loves me. No. He doesn’t. At least not in the way he’s talking about. He loves what we HAD. He misses the life we had built. He’s found out that doesn’t happen often. BUT, he doesn’t love ‘me’. If he did…well…he wouldn’t have walked out that door.

Then I had J for 3 years. Manipulative, gaslighting, cheating, emotionally and physically abusive J. And, I loved him. A lot. (Doesn’t this just show how irrational our emotions are?) And, he said he loved me. A lot. It’s took quite a while to realize this, but no. He didn’t. You know, I’ve never laid a hand on my son…and yes, he was always well behaved. I’ve never laid a had on my poochies…and yes, they are cough-cough…’sorta’…well behaved. And why haven’t I done that? Because I love them. You do NOT hurt what you love. (PLEASE don’t give me a lecture on physical punishment for kids…that’s a can of worms I don’t want to open and discuss…but when every single medical association, psychiatric/psychological association, school organization, etc. ALL say that physical punishment is wrong, I’m in pretty good company. Let’s leave it at that.) NOW, I will admit this: there were times I was so angry or upset at my boy or dogs that I had an ‘urge’ to lash out…but my love for them stopped it.

Then I was alone for a year…during a pandemic where I had only myself to be with for the great majority of the time and I got to know me in a way I never had before. I started liking me. Even loving me. And that felt great! That I could give myself what I needed was something I never knew was in me. Then, Bill came ambling along and he loves me too. We love each other when we’re crabby and tired and stressed…and not just when it’s good. He’s never threatened me with anything…talked poorly about me to others…blamed me for things outside of my realm of power…and has always either asked for or accepted forgiveness. At the age of 54, I finally can see what love is from the inside and the out. That, my grasshoppers, is worth more than a million bucks.

Contentment. Now that’s an interesting word. Synonyms include being comfortable, satisfied, and fulfilled. I was really content when I was married to Oliver’s dad. I loved loved loved our life together because I was raising a family which had always been my dream. But I also worried that this could be taken away from me if I didn’t measure up to the standard of the his family. And believe me, this standard was high. So I worked my ass off for this ‘contentment’ and maybe that tainted it in a lot of ways. B’s family is a cutter-offer type of family. There’s a divorce? Cut the person out of every picture that ever existed of them even though they are the mother or father of your grandchildren. Piss one of them off…and you’ll need to beg for their attention once again. So, yes, I was content in raising my family and being a mommy…but I was also worried it was an illusion at times…something that could be taken away with any stumble on my part. That was a shit-load of pressure…particularly for someone who’s bipolar and stumbles her way through life anyway.

I’m content now. Finally now. It’s not because I’m with Bill or because my career rocks or because I have the best kid in the universe or because I live in a cute house or because I have family that loves me. It’s because I’m OK with me. Satisfied with me. If I had to be alone, I’d be OK. I’ve come to realize that. I don’t worry about stumbling anymore. Because, for the first time in my life, I’ve learned to pick my own self up and keep moving forward.

And purpose? I think we all have this question that’s been around since the beginning of time: “What am I here for? What’s my life all about?” I’m going to be honest here. I always saw myself as another Oprah…someone who asked the hard questions and dug deep into issues and looked great on TV. That was my dream. Still is actually. But, my purpose is 2 fold: to be a great mom and to be a great professor. Am I great? Depends on what day you ask my son or whether or not I let a student make-up an exam. But I feel like I’m doing what I was put on this earth for. Along with the purpose of teaching, I know I was meant to teach as much as I can about mental illness. I believe everything happens for a reason…I also don’t pretend to know what those reasons are. There’s so much I don’t understand. But, I finally understand why I have bipolar…because I can use my opportunities of teaching to help others understand mental illness and start to break the stigma of it themselves. Does this make up for what this fucking (sorry, ma 😐) bipolar puts me through. Well….no. It does not. But, does it make it more tolerable…knowing I’m using it for others to learn from? Yes. It does.

And then there’s happiness. The word that’s so different for everyone but so widely sought after by us all. Let’s see…I’m loved, content, and have a purpose in life. Yes. I am happy. Happy with me. Happy with my life. Happy with what I have.

If I were to win a million dollars tonight, my world would change. I could go out and buy to my hearts content. But…would I alienate family? Would I suddenly quit my job and forget the purpose I have? Would I have to worry about how to spend it…who to spend it on…what charities to give it too? WOULD this windfall make me happy? Is this the end all/get all in life? I don’t think so. Not anymore. Because, my sweet peeps, I’ve got all I need right now.

Kristi xoxo

“My mama told me…you’d better shop around.” ~ Captain and Tennille

From the Dallas Morning News

So, when I go to the great heavenly crafting area in the sky, I’m hoping my last conscious act will be buying something at IKEA. Preferably, I’ll be buying yet another organizing system while shoving Swedish meatballs down my gullet. Awwww…what more could I want? Well…that my son and my 15 grandbabies are there with me…but…that may be too much to ask. 🙄

Anyhoot, I had never heard of IKEA (except in a King of Queens episode and I didn’t understand the reference) until Oliver moved to Texas and we went to one in Dallas. Before we left he said: “Ma. This is a really cool store and we will be there most of the day. Be sure to pee before we leave and have an appetite.” I said: “Oliver. We won’t be there most of the day because you are not a ‘browser’. I always have an appetite and the next time you tell me to pee as if I’m an elderly aunt, I’ll ‘forget’ all about your next birthday. Kapeesh?” So I peed, had an appetite and made sure my debit card was handy.

Everywhere you drive in Texas takes forever since it’s so freaking big (I LOVE Texas…I’d live there in a heartbeat! 🤠) but I knew we were getting close when the hairs on the back of my neck started to prickle and the smell of furniture was in the air. We found a parking spot so far away that we could barely see the store on the horizon, but after a nice trek over the macadam, we entered the doors.

My IKEA living room!

My first thought was “What the hell? This sucks balls. It’s a concrete warehouse.” I rolled my eyes at Oliver and he pointed to the escalator. We got off and I swear I heard some angels singing while I took in the sights: furniture, dishes, lights, full decorated rooms, linens, rugs…it was like every single store I had ever dreamed about was rolled into 1. I had found my utopia.

I started, manically I might add 🙄, running around and exclaiming over everything with glee. Oliver reigned me in (which is never an easy thing to do) and said: “Ma. You have to follow the arrows. We walk through the entire thing.” WHAT? OMG! Not only did this store have everything my little heart desired in life, but directions? That was super fine for my OCD tendencies. Could it get any better? 🤔

Yes, it could. We started in living rooms and I took pics of EVERY single one (to Oliver’s obvious embarrassment 😐) exclaiming in my LOUD professor-teaching voice: “I want my house to look just like this!” If I had my way, my dream home would consist of a humongous structure that had as many living rooms, kitchens, and offices as IKEA does. I’ve already started saving.

Plants at IKEA? Yes!

I was amazed by all the colors and design ideas and funky looks but said to Oliver: “But what can you buy?” Dumfounded he said: “Ma. You can buy everything. Just don’t go overboard like you usually do.” Apparently my eyes rolled back in my head and I started having heart palpitations…I was able to squeak out “GET A CART” before I had to lean against a wall and catch my breath. It was a moment of pure elation.

Now, for those of you who may not know, IKEA is a Swedish company and all of their products are priced low but are quite chic. For example, my sofa cost $1300 at a furniture store in town…I could have bought one at IKEA for a couple hundred. And, believe it or not, the quality is really good for the price. They specialize in affordable products that are decorative and sturdy. And yes, that’s all well and good. But I’m going for looks, peeps! And they got ’em.

Our First Trip!

So I began pushing my cart around the maze of rooms and started coming across the bins of items and tags you snap a pic of to pick up later. Within 5 minutes, the cart was full and Oliver was saying: “Ma. You flew here. What the hell?” And I said: “Oliver. I’m your mother. Hush it up. I’ll figure it out.” Which, by the way, I did. Sort of. Oliver had to ‘store’ some of my things for future trips when I only packed a few pairs of undies and 1 extra shirt so my suitcase was empty for more goodies to lug home.

After we shopped for about 4 hours, I was exhausted…both mentally and physically and Oliver told me I just had to eat IKEA’s famous meatballs. Sure! So, we chowed down on a couple plates of meatballs and I told myself I will never eat another type of meatball in all my life. And actually, that ended up being a lie. Not 2 days later I was gorging on Olive Garden’s spaghetti and meatballs, but that doesn’t really count. Different countries…different balls. 😉

Anyhoot, the other day, Oliver, his girlfriend (K) and I went to the IKEA in St. Louis to get some things for their new house. I sternly told myself: “Kristi, this trip is for Oliver and K. Not you. You don’t need to buy anything…you have enough ‘stuff’. Focus on your son and save your money.” So, I ended up only spending around $700. I was quite proud of my restraint. However, Oliver and K bought about the same amount of stuff too…and as stoked as were were about our finds, we started to worry as we pushed out a furniture cart, 2 regular carts, all while carrying 3 huge IKEA bags to the loading zone. We drove my Jeep Renegade and it’s not a huge SUV. In fact, it’s a bit small. But my son is a complete rock star…he was able to get everything packed in with ‘justenoughroom’ for the 3 of us. You couldn’t have added a pack of gum to the Jeep…it was that tight.

Oliver and K trying to figure out how to load the Jeep!

My big find was a cabinet I’ve been wanting that I saw people on Pinterest using for plants. I got it put together and ta-da…I loved it…but a bit too much. The next day, I ‘had’ to drive all the way back down to St. Louis (5 hours round-trip 😳) just to buy another one. That’s all I wanted and all I ‘basically’ got. Well…I did buy some artwork. And storage bins. And towels. And plants. And a couple cute garbage cans. But that was all. I ate my meatballs and headed home.

When ma visited Texas with me, we took her and she had the same reaction…she was gobsmacked. It was so much fun showing her around and seeing her get excited about $.99 potholders. Sissy, ma and I are going down for a girls day this summer, and I have a feeling we’ll buy out most of the store. I can’t wait.

Anyhoot, now you know why I want IKEA as a final resting place. It’s always fun…there’s so much to see…there’s so much to buy…there’s so much to eat…and for a manic gal like me, the space, colors, and ideas satisfy my need for stimulation. Win win. So…if you ever come to IL, look me up and I’ll take you down there. Not for me, mind you…but for you. I won’t buy a thing. Except maybe another cabinet. And a new rug. And maybe a few knick-knacks. I guess we’ll just have to see.

Kristi xoxo